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Why some politicians are more dangerous

James Gilligan's new book, 'Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others' (Polity Press, 2011) could be reduced to a few key statements, the main one being 'Republicans are very bad for your health'. Gilligan, Professor and MD at New York State University, has combed the statistics on violent deaths (homicide and suicide), from 1900 through to 2007 in order to determine political causation.

His findings confirm what many have hitherto instinctively and experientially known: murders and suicides increase under Republican rule. Why? Because they also create inequality and unemployment, both of which produce an employer's market that keeps wages down. In fact, unemployment figures - in rate and duration - have increased during every Republican administration, and decreased during every Democratic administration. Ironically, despite Republican policies that favour employers and cause greater levels of inequality and unemployment, their policies then inculcate shame amongst the unemployed - blind - or to coin a much-favoured Republican word, 'evil' to the fact that they are its main cause. The Republican ideology - hypocritical and misanthropic - fosters the most rancid shame that goes like this: can't find a job? It's your own fault. Lost your job? What did you do, must have done something. Not rich. That'll be your own fault too - or 'thats God's plan for you'. Addicted? Can't hold your damn liquor. Single mum? Slut. Had an abortion? Murderer and slut. Moaning about low pay? You should thank god you've got a job. The list goes on. It is a terrible, cruel, vicious circle in which people become imprisoned. In short, Republicans are architects of despair that leads to suicide, and of rage that leads to murder. Is this a political tract? Undoubtedly, given that in 2000 Gilligan was appointed as an advisor on youth violence by Democrat President Clinton. But, as Shakira may have sung, 'the facts don't lie'.

There cannot be many others best-qualified to author such a book. Gilligan, an international expert of on violence, has previously written widely acclaimed books on violence prevention. He has also worked as a psychiatrist in prisons, which he has referred to as his 'labs'. It is no surprise then, that Gilligan's work aims to shift the emphasis away from punishment of violence to prevention. It is an alien attitude to the average Republican, preferring instead the chain-gang and the electric chair.

Why is the republican outlook so violent, harsh, self-seeking and misanthropic? Well, it could have something to do with the one book that is so beloved by them - a book that is arguably the most violent and shame-inducing: The Bible. Man, it says, is born with original sin - shame-shot. Job, one has to conclude, must have lived under Republicanism. Gilligan successfully argues that shame is the foundation of violence - of suicide and homicide.

The book includes the case of a prisoner who Gilligan treated after the man shot dead his wife and children. When the man finally spoke, Gilligan says, it was as if from a cave. He later confided that it was the shame of losing his job as a factory supervisor that made him snap. Too ashamed to tell his wife that he'd been laid off he pretended to go to work for two months before being found out. His wife, more aggrieved by the lies than the loss of his job, shouted at him 'what sort of a man are you?', which was the point - rageful, emasculated, shame-shot - that he fetched a gun and shot his wife, before killing his screaming children. It is an act more easily resorted to in a country that also prizes gun-ownership. The typical Republican response would be to brand this man 'evil' - before killing him - then praying for him. The man's actions are not being condoned - but explained.

Can we see similar findings in the UK under Tory rule? Well, figures have long shown that more people kill themselves when the Tories are in office, evident from figures covering Thatcher's reign. In the year since Cameron came into power there have already been a number of reported suicides as a result of inhumane policies towards the sick, vulnerable and disabled - policies enforced by ATOS, whose mission is only to make a profit from declaring unfit people fit for work.

Yep. Republicans and Conservatives are very bad for your health, and should come with the same warning that took years to become emblazoned on cigarette packets. This book goes a long way in working towards that. A book covering the UK is needed.

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